The Campus Read-Option: Remembering Julius Whittier, A Trailblazer

The college football menu this weekend looks delicious, headlined by No. 9 Penn State welcoming No. 4 Ohio State to Happy Valley in a game that’s sure to produce some awesome offensive fireworks.

The Nittany Lions and Buckeyes boast the nation’s top two scoring offenses, and they’ll trade blows with a possible conference championship and playoff birth on the line. Penn State is averaging nearly 56 points per game while Ohio State is humming along at nearly 55 points per.

“2018 Heisman Dark Horse” || Trace McSorley 2017-18 Highlights || Penn State QB #9

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Both squads are led by Heisman hopefuls at the quarterback position in Dwayne Haskins and Trace McSorley. 

McSorley is a dual-threat dynamo who has thrown for a touchdown in 32 consecutive games. He’s just the second Penn State quarterback to rush for 1,000 career yards and has an overall record of 26-5 as a starter. 

Haskins leads a lit Buckeye passing attack and has thrown for 1,194 yards and 16 touchdowns, with only one interception, in the season’s first four games.

Ohio State vs TCU Football Highlights

Ohio State comes back from behind to defeat TCU 40-28.

And Penn State’s offensive line has been snuffing opposing defenses like Sonny’s crew did the Satan Messengers in A Bronx Tale after he told them, “Now you’se can’t leave.” 

Their front five has opened gaping holes all year, producing more than 200 yards in each of the last seven games while averaging a robust 275  yards per game. 

Bronx Tale bikers picked wrong bar

Now yous cant leave

If you only have time to catch one game this weekend, this one is it. 

And speaking of great offense, No. 12 West Virginia vs No. 25 Texas Tech should be off the hook as well, with opposing coaches Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury being widely regarded as offensive geniuses. The Red Raiders have the most prolific unit in all of college football, averaging an insane 623.5 yards per game. And the Mountaineers ain’t far behind with 545.3.

Texas Tech freshman quarterback Alan Bowman has thrown for 1,557 yards through four games, while West Virginia’s Heisman front-runner quarterback Will Grier has 1,117 in just three contests.

Will Grier Full Highlights West Virginia vs Tennessee || 9.01.18 || 429 Yards, 5 TDs

Highlights from West Virginia QB Will Grier’s week 1 performance vs Tennessee. Get your SportzCases here! – Promo Code for 10% off: SkyDesigns Twitter: @SkyDesignsgfx

Oklahoma vs Baylor, Clemson vs Syracuse, Florida vs Mississippi State and Ole Miss vs LSU should all be fun while the biggest matchups outside of State College, Pennsylvania will be the Top-25 clashes of Oregon vs Cal, BYU vs Washington and Stanford vs Notre Dame. 

Another squad to keep your eyes on is the No. 18 Texas Longhorns. After falling to Maryland in the season opener, they’ve put some impressive victories on the board against TCU and Southern Cal. 

The Longhorns average 163.8 rushing yards per game while quarterback Sam Ehlinger has connected on 60 percent of his passing attempts, he averages 244.5 yards per game through the air and he’s tossed for eight touchdowns as well. Many of the Texas faithful are anxiously awaiting the program’s eventual return to national prominence  

Other Longhorn and college football fans were saddened at the recent death of their trailblazing former letterman Julius Whittier.

Whittier made his debut in 1970, one season after Texas fielded the last all-white national championship team in the history of college football. He was the first African-American to ever suit up for the University of Texas. 

In 2014, his family sued the NCAA on behalf of college players who suffered brain injuries and that case is still pending. He’d been battling Alzheimer’s disease.

Ex-Longhorn in concussion suit vs NCAA

Ex-Longhorns player Julius Whittier, now suffering from Alzheimer’s, is part of a class action suit vs the NCAA on concussions.

The integration of the Texas football program was arduous. Whittier, a native of San Antonio, walked into hostile territory on the Austin campus.

“My dad was scared for me,” Whittier said in 2007. “He’d known some guys who struck off into `white’ territory and paid for it with their lives.”

“Texas seems to recruit a lot of boys from small towns, and most of them have small minds just like their fathers,” he told the San Antonio Express in 1970. “They never think about the things that are happening in this country. You never hear them talk about Vietnam or racism. If you want to know the truth, the only people I’ve met that I can really talk to are the longhairs or hippies. They are really concerned about things like ecology and the war. I’m concerned about those things, too.”

How crazy were things for him? Just consider an Associated Press story in early September of 1970 that had the headline, “Whittier, Texas’s black offensive guard, is rooming with a white player and occasionally dates white girls.”

During his career, Texas went 28-5, 20-1 in conference play and won three Southwest Conference titles from 1970 to 1972. 

Julius Whittier Hall of Honor induction speech [Nov. 1, 2013]

Former Texas Football tight end Julius Whittier is inducted into the Longhorn Men’s Hall of Honor on Friday, Nov. 1, 2013.

“I wanted to see if the myth about UT’s racism was true,” he said during his senior year. “If it was, I wanted to see what I could do to change it.”

The vile disease of racism was indeed alive and well, but his persistence and ultimate success opened the doors for the likes of the great Earl Campbell, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1977, and countless others.

Whittier embraced the challenge of standing up to racism, while trying to erase the sinister perceptions that Black athletes faced. 

Not many people today outside of rabid Texas football fans know who he was. He was neither a superstar or a Hall of Famer. 

But that was simply limited to the football field. Because what he did for other young men of color made him not only a trailblazer, but a true American hero and Hall of Famer in the game of life. Props! 

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